LAS VEGAS — A shopper armed with a concealed weapon confronted one of the killers of two Las Vegas police officers moments after the shooting only to be shot dead by his accomplice, police said.
Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Monday that 31-year-old Joseph Wilcox was in a Wal-Mart checkout line when he saw Jerad Miller fire a shot and went to confront him.
Miller’s wife, Amanda, pulled out a gun and shot Wilcox in the rib area. He collapsed and died.
Police say the Millers exchanged gunfire with officers inside the Wal-Mart before Amanda Miller shot her husband and then herself.
Police said the two suspects had ideology that was along the lines of “militia and white supremacists.”
Police are also looking into whether the couple had been at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch during a standoff with government agents earlier this year.
Bundy, who rejects the authority of the federal government, got into a high-profile showdown with U.S. officials who say he owes more than $1 million in fees and penalties for grazing his cattle on government land. Hundreds of supporters, some of them armed, went to the ranch to support Bundy.
Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said the two suspects believed that law enforcement was the “oppressor.”
Police believe the shootings were an isolated act and officers were still looking for a motive, McMahill said.
Ammon Bundy, one of Cliven Bundy’s sons, told The Associated Press that the Millers were asked to leave his father’s ranch after being there for a few days this spring.
He said that while details were still sketchy, the Millers’ conduct was the problem. He called the couple “very radical” and said they did not “align themselves” with the protest’s main issues.
“Not very many people were asked to leave,” he said. “I think they may have been the only ones.”
The two officers were having lunch Sunday at a pizza buffet in a strip mall when the Millers fatally shot them at point-blank range.
The attack at a CiCi’s Pizza killed officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who were both husbands and fathers. Jerad Miller yelled, “This is a revolution!” McMahill said.
Both suspects fired multiple shots into Beck. They then placed a note, a yellow “Don’t tread on me” flag and a swastika on the officers’ bodies, McMahill said at a news conference Monday.
The deadly rampage in the aging shopping centre about 5 miles (8 kilometres) northeast of the Las Vegas Strip unfolded in a matter of minutes.
As terrified customers fled the store, the Millers went to the rear and hunkered down for a firefight with police, McMahill said. Though they exchanged gunfire, ultimately, Amanda Miller shot and killed her husband, and then shot herself, police said.
Police were called at 11:22 a.m. to the pizzeria. Shots were reported five minutes later at the Wal-Mart.
The Millers moved to the Las Vegas area in January, police said. Amanda Miller had worked at a Hobby Lobby craft store in Las Vegas, the chain store said in a written statement, but was no longer employed there.
Jerad Miller, 31, was convicted of felony vehicle theft in Washington state, police said. He also had a criminal record in Indiana.
Miller and his 22-year-old wife were married in August 2012, according to a marriage license on file in Indiana.